Wednesday, June 20, 2018


Explain your absence, the distance,
the unbearable presence
Use your hands to mimic the shapes of the rooms
we built inside the other rooms. Their constraints
Use your hands to measure the width of the roads
connecting the rooms.
Hinge your hands. Use your hands as a doorway.
Use your lips to hang lace curtains across the windows.
Maybe just drape a towel, tape up some sheets
of newspaper.
Explain the string leading up to
leading down from the attic.
Explain why there are always so many more faces
in photographs of winter.
Explain the stairs.
Explain the sounds in the walls. Explain the bridge
that spanned the river that trickled between
 your legs. Explain the boat, the bed.
Explain the sounds you made and what they meant.
Explain why you can't explain the sounds you made.
Make those sounds again. Explain
why you'll never make those sounds again.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

I Have Not Forgotten Your Art (for Agnieszka)

It folded under him. Twisted beneath him
but he couldn’t feel it. He couldn’t feel anything.
It curled up in his guts. He coughed and woke it up.
It bulged out of his side a bit. He poked it
and it poked back. He thought about
reaching in, grabbing it, fishing it out.
But he was afraid it would wrap itself
around his wrist and drag him in.
He knew it was ridiculous to think this way
But when it would wriggle and squirm
it didn’t seem so ridiculous.
He could not expel it, could not convince it to move on.
He wondered if he could have it surgically removed
or if there were some pills he could take to diminish it
but he feared they would diminish him with it.
Best to make peace with it, even though
it weighed him down,  even though it was eating him
alive from the inside, growing larger,
swelling, expanding, taking what little he possessed
and turning it into something that would split him in two,
turning it into something that would burst from him
in a gushing flood of entrails,
turning it into love.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Bingo Night at the Eagles Lodge

Some days you give into it
The rotten world with its endless rows
of Carl’s Juniors and Jiffy Lubes
Unspeakably ugly, all parking lots and waiting rooms
Everything slapped together as cheaply and quickly as possible
without even trying to pretend otherwise
because who cares, there’s no tomorrow anyways

Except I woke up today and it was all still here,
so I snarl like a cur at everything that rankles me
An apparently ceaseless stream of offense
parading in front of me, mocking my impotence

In the old days the guilty parties would be taken up
to where the atmosphere ends and space begins
and hurled down toward the earth, burning as they fell
Skin scoured by the very thing they once took
so brainlessly into their lungs
By the time they landed they were just scorched bones
bouncing in the meadow, soon to be discovered
by curious ants.
These days we don't punish them, we let them drive
this enormous car we're all crammed into
as we speed through the forest, likely to hit
one of those exploding deer you hear so much about

So what can you do?
Lick that hammer head. Kiss that camel toe.
Finger that foamy yoyo. Squeeze that soapy trigger.
And when you get too bitter about all the losing you've done,
make a mental list of all the things you've won at carnivals.
The superballs and silly string, the plastic number puzzles,
the sawdust-stuffed Yogi Bears and Deputy Dawgs,
the live goldfish in their tiny glass globes.
Maybe tomorrow's finally the day
you get bonked on the head
by that giant ping pong ball from above.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Skull Bra

Do you want to see
my new bra?

It's a black snake
It's a rubber hose
It's another black snake
It's another rubber hose

It's a skull bra. Do you want to see
my new bra? It has skulls on it. It's a skull bra.
It's pretty. It has skulls
and roses on it.

Planks nailed together
end to end, stretching out
over the void.
Keep on going until
you run out of planks,
run out of nails.

It's a chastity belt
It's a metal bucket full of
pussy willows
It's a black charm
It's a sudden swarm

The book of water towers,
photograph album stuffed with pictures
of Queenstown Hill, of the Shotover River
the adhesive dried up
With pictures of the chasm

It's a snake skull
It's a snake bra
There are rose petals
spilling out of the sockets

Hit that boss button, interrupt
whatever fun we're having
Lace up your rubber corset
Measure what spills
Return to the original position
Nails scatter
Planks floating gently on the waves

It's a rubber snake
It's a rubber snake
It's a black widow
It's a skull spider
There was a crack in the earth
Nothing held me up
I fell headfirst
Into a picture of the chasm
Into your bra

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Walrusman Action Figure

Sliver of glass hidden carefully
beneath my tongue, just in case,
I strolled down the alley, past the smoldering box spring
where the hog was roasted.  Threw an acorn at a radiator
lying on its side in an empty swimming pool,
smiled at the echoing ping

It was 1977 and my brother and I were waiting
for Christmas, we already had R2 and Han
I didn't expect to tear open the paper and be presented
with, not Luke or Leia, but
Walrusman for God's sake, I remember how smooth
his plastic arms and chest were, he came with a blue blaster
I remember that disappointment

Just a few years later we were dancing
with the future corpse of Michael Jackson
in the living room, bored by the stock car races
at the speedway where my grandfather did handywork
all we really liked were the parachutes
The heart is a steep, narrow staircase
with lots of sharp turns and no banister
These days it’s all self-driving cars,
facial recognition software,
a goatherd using a drone to tend his flock.
Nowadays the action figures are a lot more elaborate,
and are joined by sexy teenage monster dolls
with day-glo skin. The swap meet of my memory
is in flames. I find myself willing to shell out
hundreds of dollars for a chance to free Walrusman
from his blister pack coffin again
I’d even settle for Hammerhead

Friday, May 18, 2018

Pisces Ring

In movies, nothing good ever happens in a parking garage.

I thought about the size I wanted to fit it in, the shape
I could almost picture it taking on. Would it move? If so,
what kind of movements could I see it making?

One angry river flows into another. She dressed very modestly
except for that one time and that one time was all
I wanted to think about.

We've had it easy for so long. It's going to be hard to adjust,
hard to let go. Paint scraped from the side of the shed.
Couple sitting side by side not for the proximity
but so that they don't have to face one another.
Crystal goblets thrown into the sack with the bricks.

I don't want to ponder the crux, the core. I want to linger
on the periphery, skim across the surface.
You couldn't keep from pressing your eye up to the hole
to peer at the life you hadn't thought worth pursuing.

Did she ever get someone to crawl under the deck
and look for the Pisces ring she dropped
when she took it off and it fell off the table
and rolled between the cracks?

I thought something would click into place by now.
The light changed so quickly and I slept through it all.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Even the Hard to Reach Spots

The office split her open. The dots swarmed
all over her. The idiots got back from lunch
even later than usual, sweating sweet licorice
from every one of their gargantuan pores.
She closed her eyes and caught a whiff of California.
Suntan oil, jacaranda. A stunted lemon tree bowing
before someone's driveway.

I wasn't built for love, she said.
I don’t know if I even know how to love. I used to think
I did, but I may have been deluding myself.
Is it too late to learn? Movies tell us no,
that everyone has love in their hearts and can find a way
of sharing it with the world. It sort of reeks of bullshit though.
Do I really want to love, she asked, or have I just
convinced myself I should?

Later I saw her from across the lobby and waved
but she didn't see me. I thought she was covering her mouth
to keep from crying, but it was actually to keep from laughing
as her manager punched the elevator button over and over
as if that might make it arrive faster

Shortly afterwards, she apologized, said
I've just been distracted by my attempts
to lick myself clean, even the hard to reach spots,
and the human body is mostly hard to reach spots.

After work she went to that garden statue place
around the corner from the fried chicken place
and across the street from the art supply place.
She wandered up and down the aisles
of cement saints and pelicans,
terra cotta pots, cast iron flamingos.
She knocked over a wire goose,
it fell with a bang and bent its neck.
She laughed as she righted it, then flapped her wings
and texted her boss to let him know
she quit.